Texas governor asks crypto miners to shut down if power grid appears to fail

Texas Governor Greg Abbot reportedly urged crypto miners to shut down in the event the state’s power grid appeared to be failing due to bad weather as it did in February last year, leaving hundreds dead.

Mr Abbot met with dozens of crypto miners in the state in October last year and asked them to temporarily shut down mining operations in case the Texas power grid failed to sustain the state’s energy needs as it did in February 2021, Bloomberg reported.

If another cold snap disrupts the power grid as winter storm Uri did last year, shutting down the state’s energy-hungry crypto mining operations could help shore up some energy for homes and businesses.

“Help me get through the winter,” the Governor reportedly said.

Two bitcoin miners who attended the meeting reportedly said they would shut down if the state’s power grid is strained again.

Mr Abbot, who is up for re-election this year, also faces stiff challenges ahead – one is with his own Republican party member in a primary in March, and another with Democrat Beto O’Rourke in November.

In both these upcoming challenges, the question of the Texas power grid’s weakness is expected to pop up with recent polling showing that about 60 per cent of Texans disapprove of how the state’s leaders managed the grid.

Management of the state’s power grid during the snowstorm last February has come under heavy scrutiny as blackouts during the extreme cold snap left nearly 5 million residents of the Lone Star state without power for days.

Meanwhile, with several countries across the world, including China and Kazakhstan, banning or limiting crypto mining, Texas has acted aggressively to turn the state into a crypto hub, with dozens of large and small mining companies active in the state, lobbying group Texas Blockchain Council noted.

The state also became one of the few in the US last year to make it easier for businesses to hold crypto assets and use them as collateral for loans.

Some senior Republicans, including Mr Abbot and Senator Ted Cruz have held that turning the state into a crypto mining hub would help bolster the state’s energy infrastructure as miners’ rigs would create demand for companies to come along and build more power plants.

In November, grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported that crypto mining power consumption in the state could increase by up to five times by 2023.

While the bitcoin mining industry in Texas currently consumes around 500 to 1,000 megawatt (MW) of power, the report predicts that the demand could increase as much as fivefold by 2023 with an additional 3,000 to 5,000 MW.

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